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First Covenant

Covenant Connection

Volume 3, Issue 3

April 2008... Nisan 5768

Hot Slaves with Ham


Hot Slaves with Ham


Hot Kwame

Hot Noahides (an African-American synagogue)

Free Speech


• Say Yes to Human Sacrifice

Noahide Conference, June 26th; and Noahide Books: The Noahide Code and Service From the Heart (a Noahide prayerbook)

• Prayer


Noah, our legendary ancestor, gets drunk and passes out in his tent, with his clothes disarrayed and his private parts exposed (Genesis 9). His son Ham - "cham," meaning "hot," in Hebrew - sees him like that. He and his own son, Cana'an, mock him, or even go beyond mocking, to cause him some harm that's unspeakable.

When Noah awakes he curses Cana'an. The Torah teaches that he really intends to include not just Cana'an but the whole family of Ham in his curse. "Cursed be Cana'an,"  he says; "he shall be a slave of slaves" (Genesis 9:25).

What's a "slave of slaves" (or a "servant of servants"?) What distinguishes the family of Ham from the rest of the human race?

Humankind really is one; everyone, ultimately, is related to everyone else. Everyone has two parents, four grandparents, eight great- grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, 32 great-great-grandparents, 64 great, great, greats, and so on. Go back 100 generations and, even though cousin-cousin matchups slightly limit the spread, you can see that we all are indeed a family, since everybody's ancestors include so many of everybody else's ancestors.

By now, after more than 140 generations, everyone - except maybe those who come from extremely isolated peoples, like those of New Guinea or aboriginal Australians - can claim Abraham, David and Solomon, and both Esau and Isaac, as ancestors. Go back further and the aborigines, too, carry the blood and DNA of the original human beings - and of all three of Noah's sons, Ham, and Japheth, and Shem.

So when we speak of the "children of Ham," or Shem, we're not speaking of blood relations (since we all already are blood relations, all of us having many of the same ancestors) but of cultural types within humankind, of peoples who choose to take on the ways or cultural habits of Ham, or Japheth, or Shem.

Those who choose Ham's family's approach to life choose to live life "hot." They are slaves of slaves or servants of servants in the context of this fundamental Torah principle:

Our animal drives, instincts and appetites are meant to serve us, not dominate us.

Revelation and the Hebrew Revolution don't teach us to deny our instinctual animal appetites but to put them to work to achieve goals determined by our intellect - as opposed to putting our intellect to work to satisfy our instinctual sensual desires.

We don't have to be hot like Ham. We don't have to prioritize lust and sensuality, or instant gratification from speed, sex, pounding rhythmic music and dancing, gluttony and drugs, booze and gambling and lewdness. Lust and lewdness need not rule us; everything depends on what we really want. We don't have to submit to the tyranny of instinct, to rule by our appetites. We have the right to choose. We don't have to be slaves of slaves.

One of the features of modern or "post-modern" culture is that it honors and celebrates Ham family values. Only naked emotion, animal drives, instinct and impulsiveness are real and true, supposedly; everything else is hypocrisy, so it's said.  But when people conduct themselves according to Ham family values, they become like Ham: slaves of slaves.



Racists in the Mormon church and elsewhere think or used to think of all black people as "Children of Ham," who were cursed on that account. But black people aren't any more inherently Hamitic than anyone.  Values come from culture. They are products of choice and habit, not something determined by biology. An African-American friend of ours who's a rabbi in Israel is certainly not Hamitic, for instance. But what passes in the world as "black culture," connected to drugs and dance and sensuality, is indeed Hamitic.

Detroit has become one of America's "brown towns," like Baltimore or Washington D.C., with African-American political leadership and an African-American majority. So, watching Detroit's government channel on local cable tv, one sees African-American adults teaching African-American pre-teenage girls to waggle their rear ends in time with pounding music for classroom credit and scholarships for college. Detroit's public schools aren't what they once were: now, in many cases, at least as it seems from the Detroit school system's own shows, they concentrate on teaching Ham family values.

This helps illustrate the key proposition here, which we've stressed before in these pages: the values of an Esau or Amalek - remember Amalek, the Torah's anti-Israel ? (See Exodus 17:16, "HaShem will have war with Amalek in every generation"; Deuteronomy 25:17, "Remember what Amalek did to you. . .") - or the values of Ham, or Cana'an, are cultural. We all carry elements of Esau, Ham and Amalek in our DNA and blood, but each of us has free will. We don't have to adopt the values of those ancestors: instead of opting for Ham's way, we can choose to adopt the values of our father Abraham.

We expect that the time will come soon when black people in America, and all people everywhere, stop trying to turn themselves into slaves of slaves, children of Ham.  So many black people work so hard to avoid that, for their own and their children's sake . . . But it's so hard to succeed at it when the larger "post-modern" culture of the West - a nearsighted, money-loving culture that feeds off animalism and self-indulgence - keeps trying to make us all like Ham.


Hot Kwame

We are watching the shenanigans of "Detroit's first hip-hop mayor" - along with Jay Leno and David Letterman and other comics, who have been getting a lot of jokes out of them. Kwame Kilpatrick, 38, was indicted the other day, with his female former chief of staff - with whom he was having a torrid and adulterous love affair, as we learned from court proceedings - on 15 counts of felony malfeasance and misfeasance in office, obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy and perjury.

Kwame's mother, a U.S. congresswoman, named him after Kwame Nkrumah - a soldier who helped lead Ghana to independence, then pillaged Ghana and left it bereft. But Kwame Kilpatrick has gifts - and used to have bright prospects - far beyond Nkrumah's.

Our mayor Kwame has responded to the unfolding scandal and now the indictments in typically American ways: along with lawyering up, with the best lawyers he could find - all his leading lawyers are white, if Jewish counts as white - he has denounced his opponents and the prosecutor as tools of white "special interests." Even though the county prosecutor is proudly black, as are most of his opponents (in a city where nearly everyone belongs to the same political party), and even though nobody gets more support from those same white "special interests" than Kwame himself.

People wouldn't bother with these tactics if they didn't work. Kwame likes to use what politicians in Detroit call "the drumbeat." Even though his opponent may be black, he, he insists, is blacker. He is "more truly" black. His uncontrolled appetites and instincts help prove it, to some people - since the slave of slaves values of Ham have been so widely adopted by African-Americans.

Kwame's drumbeat lunacy actually plays in many of Detroit's bars, hair and nail and wig salons, and barbershops and churches. More even than Las Vegas, the culture here is the culture of Ham.

Kwame says with a straight face that he is on a mission from God, that he is "God's appointed" - despite proof that 1) he broke at least three of the Ten Commandments (against larceny, false witness, and adultery) and 2) at least three of the Seven Universal Commandments (including subverting the legal system), and possibly four (although Kwame still controls the police chief, we're still waiting to hear from homicide detectives about the mysterious shooting of a young stripper, who was also connected to Kwame). Meanwhile, Kwame's ministerial and other supporters insist,  with straight faces, "judge not lest ye be judged" and "let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

Kwame says that he wants all the evidence to come out, that the public needs to see it - while his lawyers keep working, trying to get it suppressed!

One of the really gratifying things about this whole scandalous mess is watching our fellow citizens fulfill the Noahide commandment of din (law).  God requires every society to do what it can to eliminate anarchy and injustice, or the oppression of the weak by the strong, through din - that is, through a system of laws, police and courts.

This Divine command applies even to people with Ham family values. It applies both collectively and individually to all men everywhere. Bullies, brutes and criminals can't be allowed to simply have their way against the weak: "might makes right" is the law of the jungle, not the way of God among men. Civilization requires laws, police and courts - and dedicated citizens who make the system work.  And here, in this mess, we have them. It's a pleasure to watch them in action.

This is one of the reasons, undoubtedly, that people enjoy crime shows so much, like Law and Order and CSI. The obligation to pursue justice is so fundamental, so basic to society, that most people like it even when it's fiction.


Hot Noahides

"Black Rabbi Reaches Out to Mainstream of His Faith," reads a headline in The New York Times (Sun., March 16th, 2008, p. 17). The article tells of a congregation made up mainly of former Christians in Chicago, who feel themselves to be connected to HaShem and Torah as Jews themselves, who call themselves Jews, and who follow many "Jewish" rites and observances.

These people are mostly black, or African American. Many of them say that they "feel a cultural connection to the lost tribes of Israel." The service at Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation is "somewhere between Conservative and Modern Orthodox observance with distinctive African- American influences," the Times says. A woman's choir "sings spirituals over the beat of a drum." "[W]hile services include prayers and biblical passages in Hebrew, the worshippers sometimes break into song, swaying back and forth like a gospel choir."

Grant credit where credit is due: this congregation believes in HaShem and follows many of the Torah's righteous ordinances and statutes. It conducts services every week and serves as the spiritual home of more than 200 people. It's a lot healthier organizationally than any self-professed Noahide congregation anywhere. Most of the people probably keep a lot more of God's commandments. (After the last newsletter, quite a few Noahides commented that they never follow the Torah precept of thanking God after partaking of food or drink. The people of Beth Shalom may be less neglectful.) But it's still a Noahide congregation, not a Jewish one. And, despite its focus on Torah, it tries to syncretize or add in foreign elements, while rejecting certain Torah precepts.

We don't mean to criticize the good people of Beth Shalom. We are delighted that they think so highly of Torah and Israel as to consciously accept much of the Torah upon themselves, and even call themselves by the name of Israel. We are delighted that they recognize that one can pray to God directly, without intermediaries, and that the soul that God gives us is pure. One can see the realization of prophecy in those things. But we also see elements of the culture of Ham drifting into what Beth Shalom calls Judaism, the religion of Israel. And that - which is part of Beth Shalom's refusal to accept the full Torah, the discipline of Torah - makes us wish that they would look deeper into the Torah, that they embark on the way that the Torah itself lays out for them, the path of the pious Noahide.


Free Speech

Israel has no First Amendment - no constitutional protection for free speech. If we were sending out Covenant Connection from Israel, the police would shut it down and arrest us. You can't have a frank public discussion of Islam, or race, or nationality, in Israel. You can't speak up - like Mike Huckabee, governor of Arkansas, did during his national campaign - to say that the Arabs in Israel who want the Jews out of Israel belong elsewhere, out of Israel.  

Most prosecutors in Israel claim that speech like that is "hate speech" or "instigating violence." Because it's "racist" and "divisive," supposedly, you can't even have a frank discussion of the portions of the Torah that speak of Amalek - eternal enemy of Israel, as noted above, who is represented in every generation by the peoples who fill the ranks of movements like the Nazis, Hamas and Hezbollah. You can't go too far, in Israel, into the details of the "end times" scenario of an Israel rid of the aliens who want to exterminate Israel.

Working from America, we have more freedom than others do to expose the factual mistakes that keep people (not just Jews, and not just Noahides) from recognizing the goodness of God and the greatness of His Torah. In much of Europe, among other places, people fear being attacked by violent Muslims for speaking out in a way that might possibly offend Muslims. . . But part of the greatness of America is that even in an area with the country's largest concentration of Arabs,  freedom of religion and freedom of speech are so sacred that very few people would even consider committing any act of violence that might impair them. (Of course, the fact that so many Americans like and own guns might also bear on this issue - on people's lack of enthusiasm for using violence to try to suppress the free exercise of speech or religion by others.)

So far here, we have dealt mostly with "left wing" mistakes about the Torah, like those of Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell, who believed that what they called science invalidated all religion. They were wrong and we'd like to demonstrate it. But we've also dealt with "right wing" mistakes, such as calling for capital punishment as a Noahide punishment all the time, in Rainbow Covenant and here in Covenant Connection. We'd like to deal with some of the many instances when people take the Torah's figurative language or ancient Hebrew idioms and translate them literally, to make the Torah seem preposterous. But that will have to wait for a later issue. We recognize, however, that we need to do more.



One writer (a former roommate of ours from college) criticized the science comments in the last newsletter. His main point: >Don't try to find evidence in science for questions which are not of a scientific nature.>  

Responding: That's cop-out thinking. It was science, so called, that denied the possibility of God - it was Darwin and Newton that made Him obsolete, supposedly - and now you're saying that science has nothing to do with it. Science and what we know of the world have everything to do with it.  

"Typically faith, if it is to survive, must rest on a foundation distinct from proofs and facts." (From David Brog, Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State, p. 65). But Israel's religion isn't like that. It's not mere "ethical monotheism," it's historical monotheism. It isn't faith that validates it, it's history, including current events. It's the nature of the religion itself that proves it, along with realized and partially realized prophecies.

Archaeologists keep digging in Israel, uncovering Biblical artifacts. The first question people have about all their work is how it relates to the Bible. There's nothing unreasonable about it. But they or their bosses say the same thing: "don't try to find evidence in science for questions which are not of a scientific nature." That's ridiculous. People use science to try to disprove the Bible but it's illegitimate to use it to validate it?

[One correction to the last newsletter, regarding quantum mechanics. According to our old roommate, and we have checked it out since, sub-atomic particles do not move different ways at once. "Particles can exist in a state with overlapping wave functions in which the actual state is indeterminate, but this collapses on observation." Ok, that's true. Sorry if we misled anybody.]

Return to Cannibalism  
One correspondent, a newcomer, complains that Noahism lacks established church communities and a body of liturgy and ritual. He says that, despite his conviction that the Torah is true and Noahism is true, he feels inclined to return to his former communion.  

We told him that he could return to cannibalism for all we cared. "You're missing your old ways because He - God -  hasn't made it easy enough, you're thinking, to worship Him."

If God doesn't exist, nothing matters. If God does exist, nothing else matters. "So what manner of effort," we asked, "should you be devoting to the task of teaching yourself about God and how to serve Him? How much is too much? Half of what you used to put into your old communion? Ten percent more? 20% more? 200 percent more? Is your Maker important enough to you for you to devote 200% more than you used to give, into learning His holy ways in His service?    

"I wrote Rainbow Covenant for you to help you put two and two together so you could find your own way, using Scripture and our foundation and the other resources available to you. But you seem to want a rabbi to tell you how to breathe. You could probably find someone like that who will gladly tell you how to live, in detail. Of course Rainbow Covenant says that you'd be quite a fool if you went that way. . .

"I do sympathize with you on this point: you've been told not to create any new religion or invent any new commandments for yourself, so you're confused. You've gotten a lot of false information from different "teachers." But we've told you enough in Rainbow Covenant that you can get unconfused.    

"You are not going to get a religion laid on for you, like a tea tray. That's not how this thing works. You have to ask questions and THINK and try, at least, to figure things out for yourself. . . If you're too lazy to think, go back to your old communion."  

More Free Speech
In our shul (synagogue), one of the congregants surprised us when he said that he had read the last issue from cover to cover and wondered how we could bring out Covenant Connection in a world that's so hostile to Torah and Israel? It's not that bad, we said: "So far so good. . . . "   

Our rabbi said that he felt hurt by the advice in the last issue, that Noahides should learn from their own leaders and generally avoid going to rabbis themselves. We said that Noahides would never get anywhere if they didn't develop their own teachers and leaders. Our rabbi agreed: "Well, that makes sense."


Say Yes to Human Sacrifice

Part of our work is telling people about the great goodness of the Seven Laws. Quite a few people, obviously, haven't got the word yet. Chicago's marvelous Field Museum is staging an exhibition called "The Ancient Americas," featuring American Indian artifacts and the Field's own interpretation of history.  

Critics often call The New York Times left-wing but the Times' reviewer (March 5, 2008) found "Ancient Americas" morally and historically appalling. "There is no best or model culture," the Field's scholars teach visitors. All progress is an illusion, supposedly. "All cultures are equally valid to the individuals living in them." 

Featuring items including a "vomitive spatula" - used for purging before snorting a "sacred, trance-inducing snuff" - and bowls for catching body parts and blood, used for human sacrifice, the curators equate homicidal Mayan savagery with the Torah and the Temple. "[S]acrifice and religion are linked in many societies." Mayan human sacrifice and the sacrificial service - and don't forget the incense service! - at the Temple in Jerusalem are rough equivalents, they think. "Almost all world religions include sacrifice of some kind."  

Naturally, the scholars at the Field don't know of or don't accept the Seven Universal Laws. Cultures that keep the Seven Laws best are the most wholesome, progressive and dynamic cultures; they are most likely to succeed (or put it this way: to win the blessings of HaShem). Cultures like the Mayan, that practice human sacrifice, or worship by vomiting and getting stoned, go extinct for good reasons.  

Incidentally, the same paper features a review of a book, The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order. The author expects America's power and influence in the world to wither away fast. He doesn't think much of America's economic prospects nor her pretensions to moral authority. He's got a point, too. If Americans accept the beliefs of the Field's curators, that there's no such thing as moral progress or moral degeneration and that no culture is better than another, America won't have prosperity or power - because America won't deserve them.


Noahide Conference and Noahide Books

A Noahide conference is scheduled from Thursday, June 26st through Sunday, June 29th, or for four days ending Sunday evening, in Hollywood, Florida. Ray Pettersen has been advertising it on his Noahide Nations website. Go to Click here: NoahideNations.Com - WORLD CONFERENCE http://www.noahidenations.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task
  Both Rabbi Michael Katz and Rev. Jack Saunders will, God willing, be there as featured speakers. Some fourteen speakers are scheduled: we wish them all success.

As for books,  the one thing from Rainbow Covenant that Alan Cecil directly quoted in his new book, The Noahide Code: a guide to the perplexed Christian, was the following (p. 100):

God doesn't act as a tyrant to his creatures. The fact is, persuasive ancient as well as modern scholarship insists, that God has established the substance of His Law while He grants B'nai Noah freedom to legislate its details. . . Such details include minimal amounts and threshold quantities and the mechanisms for the Law's enforcement, to be determined in accordance with their - the nations' - own communal needs. So the nations may devise whatever structure or hierarchy of penalties they thing appropriate to secure compliance with their laws."  

Given some of the disputes we have seen over what the Noahide Law really means, we believe that Alan Cecil's selection of that single passage was inspired. [The idea that the rabbis of Israel should dictate law or the details of their own laws to non-Jews is ridiculous, and that's the main point of this passage.]

Besides that, we learned a lot from this little book (only 122 pages long), mostly having to do with the origins of Christianity. The author says it's absurd for people to reject the Noahide Law for being part of a Tradition that wasn't written down until relatively late, when none of the Christian Scriptures even claimed to have been written down until scores of years, or even centuries, after the death of anyone who had ever actually met the main character.

This isn't a flawless book. We believe that even the author has acknowledged mistakes in advising people to never spell out the word God (spelling it G-d instead), for instance. Also, it's not light reading - it's a serious, scholarly book, and it's wearying in spots. So we can't recommend it unconditionally. But we do recommend it. To learn more, and for ordering information, go directly to Alan Cecil's website: http:www.academyofshem.com.

We also received a copy of Service of the Heart: Renewing the Ancient Path of Biblical Prayer and Service. This is the Noahide siddur, or prayerbook, that we spoke of earlier, in a prior edition of Covenant Connection.

We mentioned before that we had some problems with this siddur. We even had problems with the foreword - which causes other problems, since Rabbi Michael Katz, our good friend and colleague and co-director, wrote it. But the foreword does its job, introducing what Rabbi Katz calls "this useful prayer book." It's about 270 pages long, with a large typeface that's very readable - it practically leaps off the page - and it has prayers for all kinds of occasions, including weddings, births and death. One of the more interesting prayers, according to Jack Saunders - who has presided at more than a few Noahide funerals - is one that Rabbi Katz prepared for funerals. He and Jack Saunders, among other contributors, including other Noahides and rabbis, also submitted additional material that wound up in this prayerbook.

A lot of work and a lot of love went into this book. Work and love alone don't necessarily combine to produce holiness, but they may have done it here: we found no lack of mistakes here but we believe that, notwithstanding those mistakes, there is holiness in this book. And that is no small thing.

As for those mistakes, we wish that Noahides would stop spelling God and Lord so eccentrically. We found that very distracting in Alan Cecil's book (G-d instead of God), and in this book the printing of God and Lord as GOD and LORD - except not consistently, for some reason - was jarring. We thought that Rabbi Katz ought to explain why he thinks gratitude is life's most basic principle. We thought the book could use professional editing. We recoiled every time anyone said anything about the people of Israel serving as Noahides' "Teacher-Priests" - which, we believe, casts Israel in an impossible role, while diminishing and infantilizing Noahides. In fact, we had many problems with things like that. We also wondered why some people were invited to contribute to this work while other people weren't, while some weren't even mentioned.

We know that the people most responsible for making this truly "useful" book a reality have incredibly thin skins, and will hate us for anything we say about it that isn't adulatory. But for all the very human flaws of the makers, this work still represents an amazing effort, a fascinating collaboration of people of wildly divergent backgrounds. They came together, at least in some part, for the greater glory of HaShem. We believe that He blessed their efforts, too. We believe, on balance and again, that there is holiness within this book.

For more information on the Noahide Prayerbook, go to Click here: Service From the Heart by Oklahoma B'nai Noah Society (Book) in Religion & Spirituality http://www.lulu.com/content/1177327   .


We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name.

Amen.Questions? Comments?

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Covenant Connection Archives


We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name. Amen.

Questions? Comments?

We want to hear from you:

info @ 1stcovenant. com

Visit our website: we're constantly adding new content: Multimedia

If you liked Rainbow Covenant: Torah and the Seven Universal Laws
Please let people who might read about it online
benefit from your insight: write a few lines about it 
on Amazon.com (just a few sentences will help)


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